Sunday, June 05, 2005

Pecaw's Gift / Chapter 38 Conversions

“Some interesting data here.” Scott looked over at Sinclair. Reaching up subconsciously with his hand he brushed his eyebrow a couple of times, “Very interesting.”

“Anything in particular?”

“You’re quite a remarkable person.” Scott stopped as he made an effort to phrase his thoughts. “I have . . . never been . . .sold on the idea of religion.” He tried to sound philosophical as he grabbed for words. Most of his adult life he had been surrounded by a scholastic environment. He felt the awkwardness of entering new territory. “I thought that it was a form of escape for those to weak to face the realities of the real world. I . . . could not . . . accept the concept of God. I have always been uncomfortable with things that I could not explain through logic.” His words came out almost as a pleading.

“What are you driving at? Was there something in last night’s ramblings? I haven’t had a chance to read the log. They had me in for blood tests since sunup.”

“Here on page seventy one, where you began thinking about your blessings. . .”, Scott read the lines to himself. He pointed to the middle of the page as he handed the massive accumulation of green bar paper across to Sinclair. “You pray differently than I did as a child. Your prayers are more like conversations, open ended dialogue. Its as if you almost expect to receive an answer from . . .God Himself.”

“Would it surprise you to hear that I do expect answers?”

“Yes, quite frankly it would. I say that. . . how should I put it? Yesterday I would not have had this conversation at all. There is something here in your transcript that begs me to stay a little longer.” Scott had printed out the first hour or so of the transcript, seven hundred forty five pages. The amount of information was awesome. It was the only way to insure that the data was kept in its purist form. Scott turned a few more pages to an image that was staring back at him.

“How did you get this picture mixed in?”, noticing that the pages ran continuously end to end. Sinclair didn’t know he could do that.

“Turn it around; how did You get that in there? I’ve seen it before, or at least something very similar.” He opened the leather brief that was on the desk and pulled out an old copy of the National Geographic Magazine. On the cover was a photograph of the visitor’s center on Temple Square in Salt Lake City. The picture was taken at night and in the center was the famous marble statue of Jesus Christ; His arms extended inviting all to enter His peace. The feature article, “The Mormon Experience”.

“When I first saw the image I knew right away that I’d seen it before. I had to go back several years into my library of old Geographics to find this issue. Fortunately I have them all cataloged and cross referenced.” Scott carefully placed the printed image next to the one from the magazine and waited for Sinclair’s response.

“You got me there.”, studying the two side by side. “It sure looks the same though, doesn’t it?”

“You think that’s strange. . .”, flipping another page of the transcript, “ . . . take a look at this one.” The two eyes came off the paper as if alive. The detail was exquisite, as their gaze followed; no matter where the page was held.

“Do you know who that is; . . . without me telling you?”

“Yes. . . but; I wanted to hear it from you. Its Jesus, the Christ?”

“It’s how I see him when I pray. Does this bother you?” Scott continued to hold the paper with the image in front of him; first from one side and then another as he let his soul escape the prison in which it had been locked. Tears found their way into his eyes, gently running down his cheeks.

“This is the most spiritual experience I’ve ever had. Do you see him often?”

“I can see him almost anytime of the day; that is if I take the time.” Sinclair was embarrassed that sometimes his thoughts often took him into places that the Lord would not go.

“And he really does answer your prayers?”, Scott let the question roll out; cautiously avoiding the part of the transcript a few pages further ahead’

“Yes, sometimes its not the answer I want to hear; but its always what’s best. Sinclair watched as Scott folded his arms.

“Let me ask you this; how can you justify being a cop with all of your Christian beliefs?” Scott’s cynical approach to life had led to his wariness of policemen. “I guess what I mean. . .is . . . do you believe, that its all right to kill?” Sinclair sat back in his chair for a moment as he let the words sink home.

“One of the nurses asked me almost the same question. At first I didn’t know how to answer her. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but for some reason it made me angry and frustrated; kind of caught me off guard.” Sinclair looked at the floor for a few extended moments as he carefully pulled his thoughts together.

“Policemen have so much . . . “, gathering the air with his hands as words tried to express his fears, “. . . potential for the abuse of power.” Scott’s apprehension was not without some merit. “I’m not so sure that I like the idea of giving the all powerful decision of life or death to some kid fresh out of high school.”

“Let me ask you a question. Would you feel any better if you thought that most officers out there working the streets had searched their own hearts on a regular basis?”, pausing as he took in a breath and looked directly into Scott’s eyes. “I know I have the highest regard for the gift of life. I feel sure that most officers do.”

“But what about the ones who don’t ? Can you guarantee that they won’t . . .”

“No guarantees in this life Scott. . .”, Sinclair interrupted, “ . . . you should know that.” Scott conceded the point.

“I suppose your right. Doesn’t it get to you; the job with all the miserable assholes you have to put up with?”

“It does, but only a little at a time. I sometimes wish I’d never joined. I find myself enjoying jokes that are crude or laughing when I shouldn’t. Bev will look at me once in a while to let me know that I’ve gone too far.”

“I’d like to hear more about what you believe. For some reason; I can’t put my finger on it just yet, I want to know more.” Scott picked up the pages once more, gazing at the eyes of the Lord.

“Have you ever read the Book of Mormon Scott?”, as they continued Sinclair had the computer load directly from the hard disk. Vern had bought him the computerized
Scriptures as a “get well” present; nineteen individual disks in all.

“No, but I understand that you Mormons use it instead of the Bible.” Scott had not done too much reading along the lines of religion. He read from the monitor as it brought up one of Sinclair’s favorites.

“And behold, I tell you these things that you may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God.” He found himself appreciating the simplicity and wholesome nature of the advice. Scanning over the text at random he would stop once in a while to take in a passage.

“I would like to see more. Can I borrow a copy?”

“I can do better than that. Why don’t you let me Lap Link onto your personal computer. That way you can have all of what are known as the Standard Works; The Bible, Book of Mormon, Pearl of Great Price and Doctrine and Covenants. They are all cross referenced and I think you will find them easy to access.”

“You say that you use the Bible too? I can remember having to stand up and read aloud in my Sunday School class. At the time my reading skills were not very good. I felt awkward and never enjoyed going to church. I don’t think I’ve picked up a Bible since then.” Scott’s eyes never left the monitor as he talked.

“Your not alone; I didn’t get serious until I was in my late twenties. I started studying the New Testament and then the Book of Mormon. At the time about the only thing I knew about the Mormons was that they crossed the prairies in wagons. We had just started having children and in the back of my mind there were so many questions that I had no answers for. I figured it was time to . . . “ The door to the room opened slightly and Vern Rylan poked his head in.

“Am I disturbing anything? I can come back later.”

“No, come in.” Sinclair was always glad to have Vern in for a visit. “Scott Bartel this is Vern Rylan, my computer Guru.”

“I’ve been looking forward to meeting you. Your work here has impressed me.” Scott pointed to the voice synthesizer unit and nodded with genuine favor. “What I would do to get you into my department at the University?” Vern accepted the compliment graciously.

“You’re the one who has been reviewing Sinclair’s ramblings. He sure can manufacture some data, can’t he?” Vern opened his palms as he measured the thickness of printed paper and tried to imagine having to read through it all.

“So, what brings you up here today?” Sinclair cocked an eyebrow in Vern’s direction.

“I need to get some of this stuff out of here.” Vern picked up the Nintendo screen that was no longer needed.

“What’s that for?” Scott noticed the game company name painted clearly on the border.

“We were using it to translate sign language for Sinclair’s roommate. There’s no need for it now.” A silence crept over Vern as he thought about how he missed working to communicate with Mr. Alejandro. They had created a voice to go along with his cheerful personality. Mr. Alejandro would have been proud to have heard it, if he could have. Sinclair looked over to Vern and the two remembered their friend with respect.

“Why don’t you show Scott how it works. He might enjoy it?” Sinclair reached out to help open the screen and plugged in the adapter jacks. “You’ll have to turn on that lamp.”, pointing in Scott’s direction and involving him at the same time. Vern stood in front of the screen and without talking made a few simple signs. The voice synthesizer immediately began the process of converting it into audible English.

“That’s nothin’, watch this.” Sinclair read the bold print from the front page of the newspaper. As he spoke there came a flurry of signs across the monitor of his computer. “Not bad. huh?” Sinclair was showing off Vern’s work to someone who was capable of truly appreciating it.

“How much did you say they were paying you to work here?” Scott’s question was much more direct this time.

“Actually they didn’t pay me to do this at all. I did this on my own.” Vern had not done it for the money anyway.

“No, I mean what kind of a salary do you make here at the hospital?” Vern looked upwards as he visualized his pay stub.

“About twenty five hundred a month, give or take. Why do you ask?”

“I think you might enjoy working for the University if you could learn to live on three thousand a month; plus expenses.” Scott sat back in his chair knowing that his challenge had landed on the mark.

“Three thousand would be nice.” Vern let the idea wander about. “Does that include medical insurance for my family too?” Scott nodded along as he waited to complete the conversion.

“What kind of duties would we be talking about?”

“For starters, I’d have you working to refine this gadget. That should hold your interest for a month or so.”

“Sounds tempting; let me think it over and talk to my wife; before I give you my answer. Is that all right with you?”

There’s no rush.” Scott reached into his pocket and took out one of his business cards. He scratched out the phone number that was printed on the bottom. “I seldom have a need for these. The number’s been changed twice since I had these printed up.” Vern accepted the card and put it in his shirt pocket; then took it out and thoughtfully placed it in his wallet.

“Ya’ see, I told you it was good.” Sinclair smiled as he saw something very positive about to happen for his friend. Vern started to unplug the Nintendo screen from the synthesizer.

“Would it be okay to leave it on?” Scott quickly asked. “I was just starting to consider some of the applications that such a device could be targeted for.” Scott put his hands into the light; casting shadows onto the screen. The computer was not able to merge the random figures with the compendium of known signs.

“Please repeat your last sentence.” The computer flashed the message simultaneously.

“Well I’ll be switched.” Scott laughed as he tried to make the shape of a rabbit.

“You think that’s funny?”, Sinclair quickly signed the word YOUR onto the screen. He could hardly contain himself as the instant reply came out.

“Body blow !”

“I’m still working the bugs out.” Vern looked at Sinclair scornfully. “It was originally part of a boxing game.”

“Don’t apologize; I think you’ve done quite a job here.”

“Quite a JAB too.” Sinclair couldn’t resist.